I have this incredible photograph of my great-grandmother that I love. In it, she wears an smocky sort of apron next to a a large table covered in cherry strudel. The thinly stretched dough almost isn’t noticeable under the dark cherries scattered over the surface. When my mom and I talked about it, she told me that she watched her grandma make strudel many times, but she was never able to get a full recipe.
I worked on this one for a long time after, and discovered that strudel is one of those impressive recipes that’s actually a lot easier than you think. It’s since become one of my favorite things to bake—and I think it’s a perfect baking project to tackle (especially with a friend or family member) this winter.
Mixing the dough for a long time creates an intense gluten structure that (after a nice, long rest) makes the stretching so fun, and less scary than it may seem. A tablecloth under the dough makes it easier to manipulate—and don’t worry about any tiny tears or holes that occur—they’ll get lost in the layers of it all when you finally roll the strudel up. If you’re able to, stretch the dough on a small table or kitchen island—it makes the process a lot easier if you can move all the way around the table, and use it for stability to get it as thin as possible. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and pointing out all the mistakes to avoid along the way. —The Editors
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- makes nearly 2 pounds (875 grams) dough
(480 grams) bread flour
(3 grams) fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups
(288 grams) warm water
large (85 grams) egg yolks
vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
1 1/2 teaspoons
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour and salt to combine, 10 seconds.
- In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk the water, egg yolks, oil, and vinegar to combine. Add this mixture to the mixer, and mix on low speed until the mixture starts to uniformly combine, about 1 minute.
- Continue to mix on low speed for 10 minutes. At this point, the dough should have formed a ball around the dough hook, and should appear relatively smooth. It should be slightly tacky (not sticky) but not dry—if it seems dry, add more water 1 tablespoon (15 grams) at a time, and mix for 1 minute before checking the consistency again.
- Raise the mixer speed to medium and continue to mix for 10 minutes more. Lightly oil a medium bowl, and place the dough inside. Turn the dough over a few times to coat it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The rested dough is then ready to be stretched and filled.